Last night was S.’s party at the yoga studio to launch her photography business. After more than a year of buildup and hard work (S. and I talked about it every week on our runs), she finally quit her job as an environmental activist. Her last day was Dec. 28; I gave her a frame with a note in it that said “I’m so proud of you” and we celebrated with dinner at the Diner. S. also got her yoga instructor license and is teaching two classes a day.
We had an hour and 15 minutes to get into the yoga studio where she teaches and I’m a regular, on the second floor of a narrow walk-up in Adams Morgan, and transform the space. A group of 10 of us opened the windows, turned on the fans to air out the space, and quickly and efficiently swept the hardwood floors. We used two hammers to hang her striking photos both in color and black and white of babies (K. said “Why is it that it’s cute for babies to have rolls of fat?”), weddings, portraits and fine art (many of which are from when she served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala). We set up two bars at each end of the long room with red and white wine, cheese and blueberries and strawberries and carrots and dip and ginger snaps. Candles lined the walls on the floors.
I invited some my friends to help to drum up business for S. S. said she’d had anxiety dreams that no one would show up. If I had to guess, more than 80 people came through last night, looking thoughtfully at the photos and socializing. S. was striking in her sparkling black tank top and white pants and she was beaming.
S. and I met three years ago on the street — it’s a story I like to tell because it’s so unusual. It was December, three months after I moved to the city from Chicago, and I was walking home from work carrying a vase of a dozen red roses and lilies. I came to a crosswalk in Foggy Bottom and S. and I had eye contact and she said, “Those are beautiful, is it your birthday?” I said, “No, it’s not, a guy who I’m not into sent them to me — he’s leaving to go to Iraq with the State Department.” She said, “My husband works for State Department.” We were walking the same way home and walked about six blocks talking. When we reached O St. where I used to live, I said awkwardly, “We should exchange cards.” And she invited me to stop by her place the following Sunday afternoon because she was raising money for the AIDS marathon (which I ended up running in Dublin a year later) by selling cards with her photos on them. I did, and I bought three of her cards. From there, she and her husband have slowly become two of my closest friends in D.C.
Last night was the perfect example as to why I hold S. so dear to me. She’s not only a loyal, caring friend who’s a joy to be around, but she’s also an inspiration to anyone who’s afraid to take a leap of faith.